Monday, 28 March 2016

Constitutional Provisions For The Selection Of Vice Chancellor

One of the hottest gists on the soil of Obafemi Awolowo University campus is the ongoing jostling for the soon-to-be vacant seat of the Vice Chancellor of the institution. Professor Bamitale Omole is expected to bow out of office on June 23, 2016.

In a bid to educate the OAU community especially the student population, OAU Peeps News Agency finds it imperative to state the position of the constitution as regards selection of the Vice Chancellor.

The principal law governing the selection and appointment of Vice Chancellors in Nigerian Universities is the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, No 11 of 1993. This Law was amended by the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Amendment Act, 2003. The cumulative effect of these laws on the appointment of Vice-Chancellors is summarized as follows.

1. There shall be a Vice- Chancellor of a University who shall be appointed by the President in accordance with the provisions of this section.

2. Where a Vacancy occurs in the post of a Vice- Chancellor, the Council shall –
(a) advertise the vacancy in a reputable journal or a widely read newspaper in Nigeria, specifying –
(i) the qualities of the persons who may apply for the post; and
(H) the terms and conditions of service applicable to the post, thereafter drawn up a short list of suitable candidates for the post for consideration;

(b) constitute a Search Team consisting of –
(ii) a member of the Council, who is not a member of the Senate, as chairman:
(ii) two members of the Senate who are not members of the Council, one of whom shall be a professor;
(iii) two members of Congregation who are not members of the Council, one of whom shall be a professor.

To identify and nominate for consideration, suitable persons who are not likely to apply for the post of their own volition because they feel that it is not proper to do so.

(3) A joint Council and Senate selection board consisting of –
(a) the Pro-Chancellor as chairman;
(b) two members of the Council, not being members of the Senate;
(c) two members of the Senate who are professors, but who were not members of the Search Team, shall consider the candidates and persons on the short list drawn up under section (2) of this section through an examination of their curriculum vitae and interaction with them; and recommend to the Council suitable candidates for further consideration.

(4) The Council shall select one candidate from among the three candidates recommended to it under sub section (3) of this section and forward the name to the President. (This section has now been amended. See below)

Prior to 1993, the appointment of Vice- Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, with particular reference to Federal Universities, was done by the Federal government without recourse to the Councils and Senates of the Universities.

The Present law is a complete departure from the previous arbitrary manner of appointing Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities. The present law allows for participation by all segments of the University community, i.e Council, Senate and Congregation.

The present law has circumscribed and curtailed the wide powers which the Federal government previously had in appointing Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities.

Under section 4(b) of the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Amendment Act 2003.

“The Council shall select and appoint as Vice Chancellor one candidate from among the three candidates recommended to it ... and thereafter inform the visitor.

The appointment of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities is now within the powers of University Councils. It is now an internal matter in, which members of the University community participate either directly or indirectly. This development must be welcomed. It allows for participatory democracy by all segments of the University Community.

Despite the enormous powers which Councils of Universities now have in appointing Vice Chancellors, they are not laws unto themselves. They are subject to control by the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who has the power to remove any member or dissolve the Council.

They are also subject to the control of Courts of Law in the exercise of their powers. Let us assume that a selection board has recommended three candidates (A, B, and C) to a Council. The candidates are listed in order of performance and preference, with candidate ‘A’ as the first and candidate ‘C’ as the third. Council has now chosen candidate C and has informed the president as required by Law.

Is the decision by the Council absolute and unquestionable? I do not think so. Their decision can be called into question in a Court of Law. A University Council cannot by its own decision finally determine or decide on the question of the exercise of its powers. Such question is always subject to review by the Courts.

A University Council that allows itself to be guided by political and ethnic considerations in the appointment of a Vice Chancellors, can be challenged in a Court of Law

Credit: Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1993 Imperial Vice Chancellors
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